“Paul teaches us to live through trials by holding on to Christ to mature the conviction that God can act in any circumstance, even in the midst of apparent failures, and the certainty that whoever offers and gives himself to God for love will surely be fruitful,” Pope Francis said in the Paul VI Hall January 8.
“Love is always fruitful, love for God is always fruitful. If you let yourself be taken by the Lord and you receive the gifts of the Lord, this will allow you to give them to others,” the pope added.
Pope Francis reflected on the Acts of the Apostles’ account of the shipwreck off the coast of Crete of a ship carrying an imprisoned St. Paul and other Christian prisoners from Caesarea to Rome to stand trial. In recent months, Francis has focused his weekly Wednesday catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles.
An angel appeared to St. Paul in chapter 27 of the Acts of the Apostles in the midst of the violent storm and told him, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You are destined to stand before Caesar; and behold, for your sake, God has granted safety to all who are sailing with you.”
Paul, a prisoner, then told the 276 other people on the battered ship: “Keep up your courage, men; I trust in God that it will turn out as I have been told.”
“When death seems to be near and despair pervades everyone, Paul intervenes and reassures his companions,” Pope Francis said. “Even in a trial, Paul does not cease to be the guardian of the lives of others and animator of their hope.”
The pope recommended everyone to read the Acts of the Apostles to see how the power of the Holy Spirit worked through the apostles to bring the Gospel to all people.
“This is a law of the Gospel: when a believer experiences salvation, he does not keep it for himself, but puts it into circulation,” Francis said.
“Every experience of truth and beauty seeks for itself its expansion, and every person who experiences a profound liberation acquires greater sensitivity in the face of the needs of others,” he said. “A ‘tried’ Christian can certainly get closer to those who suffer because he knows what suffering is, and make his heart open and sensitive to solidarity with others.”
Pope Francis prayed asking the Lord to help us live every trial sustained by faith, and to be sensitive to the shipwrecked who arrive on our shores.
The pope also asked people to pray for the people of Australia after the worst fire season in the country’s history scorched millions of acres of land this week.
Pope Francis greeted pilgrims before the audience, joking “don’t bite” with a religious sister who reached out to greet him, saying he would give her a kiss on the cheek if she stayed calm.
The joke seemed to be a reference to an event from December 31, 2019, when a woman grabbed the pope’s arm and he slapped her hand.
At the end of the pope’s general audience, circus performers put on a show in front of the pope with dancing and acrobatics.